Comfort Inn Birmingham
Birmingham, EN B5 4DY
Phone: (44) 121 6431134
Fax: (44) 121 6433209
In the Thomas Gardens, which lie at the center of Holloway Circus to the south of the city center, is a statue to Hebe: for those who don't know their mythology, she was the daughter of the Greek deities Zeus and Hera. She was the goddess of the blossoming maturity of youth, and her life-sized reclining figure gazes into a pool with a small fountain below her. She has been gazing into her pool since 1957, which was when she was placed here to commemorate the completion of the city's inner ring road, and remains an attractive diversion.
As the only surviving example of the once prevalent Back to Backs of Birmingham, these historic building are a rare treasure. During the 19th Century, a number of buildings were built back to back around a common courtyard to meet the demands of the rapidly growing population of the city as a result of industrialization. These houses were inhabited by the working class who managed to survive in these cramped quarters. Each of the four Back to Backs around the courtyard have been restored and refurnished as a representation of four different time periods, giving visitors an extremely rare opportunity to take a peak in to the lives of the ordinary working men and women of the 1840s, 1870s, 1930s and 1970s. Only a few slots are available each day and prior reservations are a must if you wish to visit these homes.
The Singers hill Synagogue also known as the Birmingham also known as the Birmingham Hebrew Congregation is the largest and oldest Victorian synagogue in the country, dating back to the mid nineteenth century. It is a Grade II listed heritage building featuring Neo-classical, Romanesque and Italian architecture with a Norman wheel window in the front brick facade which also makes it a popular tourist attraction in the area. It has a large and diverse congregation of Jews from the area who use the synagogue as community and social center as well as a place of worship. A wide variety of service and clubs fro all age groups are available for members. Every year, the synagogue opens its doors for a Heritage Open Day where the public can tour the building with an information guide and also see a Jewish concert by the Kol Kinor choir. Apart from open days, it welcomes schools, colleges and other educational and social organisations to tour its premises provided that advance booking is done. Through these programs, the congregation wishes to give the public an insight into Jewish culture and build strong relations with other religious communities to strive towards a tolerant and friendly society.
This fine Victorian sandstone building is at Bennetts Hill, and is now a public house. It was originally built as the National Provincial Bank in 1833, and was rebuilt in 1869, as the inscription around the building will tell you. It is of particular interest for its city coat of arms above the entrance and for its relief sculptures, just inside the entrance porch. The sculptures show craftsmen and industrial scenes and represent the enthusiasm of the bank to be connected with the enterprise of the city.
There are numerous free brochures as well as more in-depth guides for sale here. You can also buy tickets for theater productions and other events. Don't worry if your English isn't great as the staff are multilingual. Birmingham Visitor Information Center is situated in the heart of the city center, about five minutes' walk from New Street station.
St. Martin was a soldier who healed the sick and was outspoken on social concerns of his day. The earliest mention of St Martin's Church was in a document from 1263, and although it has been rebuilt several times since it always seems to be in need of general repairs. That's not to say it's not an impressive building, it has some fine Gothic touches and many interesting features. The church is located near Birmingham's popular Indoor Market and St Martin's Market.
The Iron Man sculpture by Anthony Gormley (also responsible for the much lauded "Angel of the North" in Gateshead) is unmistakably conspicuous as you walk across Victoria Square towards the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It was erected in 1993, a donation to the city from the TSB bank which had just relocated to Birmingham. However, it has since caused a certain amount of controversy. Standing at almost 20 feet high, it depicts a stylized human figure apparently bound like a mummy. It leans slightly and the metal used is designed to oxidize in order to protect it. This explains the controversy—it was seen as a leaning, rusty hunk of metal, but the controversy has now died down a little and people are beginning to appreciate it more.
The Queen's College of Birmingham, now known as Queen's College Chambers, is a residential and office building with a Grade II listed Heritage facade. Initially, it entire structure housed The Birmingham Medical School along with large lecture theatre, laboratories, anatomical rooms, a dining hall and apartments for seventy students which were later added after the Royal charter made it the Birmingham Royal School of Medicine. However, due to internal disagreements, the departments of the college split and moved on to different universities and the building was demolished in 1970 with the listed facade left intact. It was later incorporated into an office and residential building which still stands on the location today. The facade is over three storeys tall and has beautiful traceried paneling, windows and a craved entrance featuring a statue of Queen Victoria.
The River is a sculpture located at the center of Victoria Square. This piece is the work of artist Dhruva Mistry, who won the international design competition held to find a suitable centrepiece for the square. After the competion of the sculptures, the square was reopened in 1994 and the ceremony was graced by the presence of Princess Dian. The sculpture features a bronze woman surrounded by flowing water. Locally referred to as the "Floozie in the Jacuzzi", the River forms only a part of Mistry's complete design which also includes the surrounding sculptures of Youth, Guardians and Object.
This square has transformed over the past decade from a grassy slope where office workers would picnic on a summer's afternoon to a pedestrian-friendly European plaza accessible all year. Birmingham's Town Hall and Council House are located on the square, but graded steps replace the slope and there's now a large fountain containing a sculpture known fondly by locals as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. Stone lamps and statues of sphinxes adorn the grounds, as does a statue of Queen Victoria. Victoria Square has now become a popular meeting point and relaxing place to people watch.
Overlooking Chamberlain Square in the heart of the city is a statue of Joseph Priestley who, like Watt and Boulton, brought his knowledge and expertise to the city in the 18th Century. Priestley was a member of the Lunar Society, a body of eminent thinkers including Watt, Boulton and Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles) which met in the city. Priestley's chief claim to fame is as the discoverer of oxygen, and he is sculpted holding the letter "O" in his hand to represent his achievement.
The square is named after one of Birmingham's famous mayors, Joseph Chamberlain. The Central Library and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery are located here, as is the focal point, the Chamberlain Memorial Fountain. There is also a very lifelike statue of Thomas Attwood, a famous Birmingham banker and MP. He lies reading on the steps leading up to the library and has often been known to seriously confuse the unwitting passer-by. The Square is a busy thoroughfare and a popular place to see for both locals and visitors alike.